My exchange semester here is about to come to an end, and now is the perfect time to look back at the past four months with calm contentment while shoving my life into a couple of suitcases.
When I arrived in August, I was lost like a needle in a haystack and honestly had no idea what to expect. Of course it didn’t take too long for things to start rolling smoothly; new students are always taken good care of, and there are always several people and organizations making sure that exchange students quickly get their lives into order in the new city, and get socialized into the exchange student community.
Linköping is definitely a university town, and as we know, many of the traditional student activities in Finland, such as sittningar and overall parties have originated from Sweden. Student associations at the Linköping University are very active – there are always events to attend and parties to party.
A bicycle is absolutely a must-have in Linköping. Most of the student apartments are located a couple of kilometers away from the campus, and biking to the city center takes about the same time as taking a bus. Furthermore, the campus is formed as a wide road with the university buildings on both sides, which means that two buildings you need to go to can pretty far away from each other and biking within the campus is very convenient.
The main reason I wanted to come to Sweden was, as for most other Finnish students here, the language. I had heard many people complain about not learning the language as efficiently as they would have liked to, and I have to say that this was a bit of a problem for me as well. I had been registered on international courses despite my wishes to study in Swedish, but the people at the university’s International Office were very helpful when I wanted to change my course plan. Since in Sweden it’s common to have only one course running at a time, I got to study three out of my four courses in Swedish.
However, I spent my free time with other foreigners, as I got close with a group of around a dozen exchange students during the first couple of weeks here. Throughout the semester, we arranged different activities ourselves – canoeing, ice skating, a weekend trip to Gothenburg, countless corridor fikas and cooking dinner together, often several times a week.
Even though I didn’t get to know quite as many locals as I had hoped, I ended up learning much more than just the language by spending time with this very international friend group. For one thing I can say that even though I have always appreciated the Finnish education system, the appreciation is taken onto a whole new level when I talk to people who are constantly impressed about things that I would just take for granted. I definitely enjoyed my stay, and I will miss my friends as well as the city and the university, but I’m also very happy to return home, knowing that I can always come back across the gulf for a visit.
God jul och gott nytt år!Varpu Somersalo Linköpings universitet (Marketing, 8/2014-12/2014)